Rep. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati), the ranking Democrat on the House State and Local Government Committee, issued a statement Tuesday as Republican lawmakers voted to pass Senate Bill (SB) 22, controversial legislation that would threaten the health and safety of Ohioans by curbing authority from the governor and health director during public health crises.
“This bill, and its House companion version, are dangerous bills that will only slow our response to the pandemic and put the health and safety of many more Ohioans at risk,” said Rep. Kelly. “Worse yet, Republicans are rushing this through without getting the facts. We heard numerous falsehoods and misinformation from proponents of this bill during committee, and yet, Republicans are still okay with sending this bill to the floor. We can’t base our decisions on misinformation because those fake facts will have an impact on real lives. We’re better than that.”
Proponents of SB 22 made a number of false, inaccurate and misleading claims about the virus and the state’s response. Similarly, YouTube pulled down a recording of testimony from a Feb. 17 House committee hearing on House Bill (HB) 90, legislation that mirrors many of the same provisions of SB 22, for violating the site’s terms of service for spreading COVID-19 misinformation.
Opponents of both SB 22 and HB 90 include top state public health officials, who said the effort to roll back health orders would slow the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Statehouse researchers also called into question the constitutionality of the effort to strip executive authority from the governor.
Democrats offered several amendments to SB 22 during Tuesday’s committee hearing, including:
· Requiring the Ohio Health Oversight Committee to convene at the call of the governor;
· Requiring members of the General Assembly appointed to the Committee be a physician or have public health experience;
· Raising the threshold of votes needed to overturn health orders;
· Removing the severability clause in the bill.
Republicans rejected the amendments along party lines.
After passing the State and Local Government Committee, the bill now moves to the House floor for a full vote Wednesday.